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Congress ‘floating’ idea of women registering for Selective Service

The issue of whether young women should be required to register for the military draft has been hovering mostly below the proverbial radar as COVID-19, abortion, infrastructure, Build Back Better, free speech, gun rights and other major topics have continued to dominate attention.

However, with the U.S. House already having passed the female draft registration measure as part of a $777.9 billion annual defense policy bill and the Senate expected to act on the proposal in the not-too-distant future, it would seem that robust expressions of opinion by the public — pro and con — already should be well entrenched. Yet, people of the Juniata Valley can attest that the issue hardly has been front and center.

It even is possible that most people here are unaware of what is happening on the front in question, but it is important that they be tuned in to what already has occurred, as well as what actions might be forthcoming sooner rather than later.

Still, it could be that making young women military-draft-eligible is an idea just being “floated,” without any real expectation that both houses of Congress will have the will to approve it.

And even though the idea has garnered support from both sides of the House and Senate aisles, it would be foolish to be too presumptive about what that might mean in terms of the measure’s passage.

Certainly, lawmakers not only are weighing the politically sensitive plan’s potential impact on families of their district, but on their congres­sional careers as well.

It is not too late for anyone to start to take serious notice of what is happening regarding the proposal, and to register an opinion with representatives in Washington.

Letters to the editor also are a good resource for helping to gauge public opinion — and to remind lawmakers that the public is paying more than cursory attention.

Although the actual draft ended nearly 50 years ago, this registration issue is no inconsequential matter; the prospects for a national emergency never really are nonexistent.

In an article in the Wall Street Journal’s Nov. 19 edition, the newspaper reported conservatives’ concerns about a further eroding of traditional gender roles and family values.

The newspaper went on to say that other Republicans and Democrats support the proposal on the grounds that it would promote gender equity within the U.S. military, which opened all combat jobs to women in 2015.

Then there are some in Congress who prefer abolishing the Selective Service System, ending the now-required registration for men and what is proposed for women.

“I kind of think it (registration) should be (for) all or none,” said Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming.

The Selective Service registration pamphlet says “not registering is a felony. Young men prosecuted and convicted of failure to register may be fined up to $250,000, imprisoned for up to five years, or both. Failure to register also may cause men to permanently lose eligibility for student financial aid, government employment (and) job training.

Young women failing to register, if it were required, presumably would be subject to the same, or very similar, penalties.

According to federal officials, 17% of the nation’s active military force now is women.

Perhaps the most relevant question regarding the issue is “What do you think?”

There is room for that opinion amid the other important topics of the day.

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